The mood at the ShoutCaster’s Desk was not a happy one. The last thing that Stone said, “Shit. That sucks.” echoed despite the professional grade microphones, pre-amps, noise-gating, and soundproofing. Those words hung in the air, echoing without an echo. The sentiment was precise, and the ShoutCaster’s Desk reflected what every KG Fan— No, what every Chinese fan of League of Legends was feeling at the moment. Regardless of how they individually felt about KG, the team was currently carrying all of China’s hopes for the Season 5 World Championships.
Qinghe felt it too, and tried to change the mood by forcing out a smile and some optimism, “Let’s not lose all hope just because Rake’s LeBlanc is on a rampage! There’s still more of this game to go! And let’s cheer for God Roundy back there for some quick, quick, quick thinking on his feet! That Teleport helped even things out for the whole team, pulled a baby right outta that trash-fire. If he didn’t jump in, that fight would’ve been 0-for-2. But Roundy’s Riven got there in the nick-o’-time and made it 2-for-3. And even with the kill back there, Riven is still scaling decently. Rake might be feeling the snowball, but I’m feeling like Riven’s starting to bring enough heat to melt it. Any thoughts, Stone?”
Stone was still slumped on his side of the Caster’s desk and completely missed the point of Qinghe’s analysis. “It’s no use, though. I don’t see KG turning this around…” Then his mind finally processed Qinghe’s words and he perked up a little and added tentatively, “Rake’s LeBlanc getting fed this early into the game, it’s going to be hard to stop hi—” He paused mid-sentence. Then perked up a little bit more, cautiously hopeful. “Unless.” He looked straight at the camera before continuing, “Unless God Roundy uses this lead to completely dominate top and carry the game. But that’s a big if right there, Qinghe. A real big if.”
Qinghe nodded silently. Stoically. There was nothing more he could say here. His momma didn’t raise no fool, and he knew there was very little that KG could do against a LeBlanc that was 4/0/0 this early in the game. And it was Rake’s LeBlanc too. He sighed. KG’s midlane was at an absolute disadvantage right now. Even the Lulu they’d strategically picked to counter LeBlanc was useless right now. All hope of a KG victory in this game rested solely in the hands of God Roundy’s Riven. Tian Tian was now carrying all of China on his back.
“GO GO ROUNDY! YOU CAN DO IT!” Su Xue shouted at her monitor. But all of the people on her stream could hear how nervous she sounded underneath the cheers.
Lin Feng, still sitting next to her, had nothing to say. He bit his lips and stared at the monitor intensely. Beneath his bangs, his eyebrows were scrunched together. He already knew what was going to happen. He knew that all of the optimism and hope would fall flat. He knew it was almost impossible for Fatty to turn this around. There was no way for Riven to turn the tide of this game.
9 minutes and 25 seconds into the game. Rake’s LeBlanc was dominating the midlane, just as everyone expected. KG’s Lulu was pushed back to the safety of the tower multiple times, and eventually had to recall to base. LeBlanc froze the minion wave, and then decided it was time to go for a walk on the Rift with SSK’s Jungler Rek’Sai. Together, they roamed to top lane and took the scenic route. They circled behind KG’s outer tower in top lane and flanked God Roundy’s Riven. No man, no matter how perceptive, expects to be taken from the rear by two other men. Especially not the way Team SSK’s dynamic duo did it. Rek’Sai burrowed into the ground and popped up underneath Riven to knock her up into the air. LeBlanc jumped up over with Disortion and unloaded her full damage combo onto Riven. This combo play, the unexpected attack from behind where one Champion came in from the bottom and the other from the top, it was more than God Roundy’s Riven could handle. LeBlanc picked up another kill, and Rake killed any hope of God Roundy turning the tide in this game.
With that last kill, Rake’s LeBlanc was now at 5/0/0. As Riven’s body dropped to the ground, all of the Chinese viewers felt their heart’s drop too. With this single macro-gameplay masterstroke, Rake had effectively taken out KG’s outer tower at top lane, dropped Riven behind by a lot of Gold and Experience, made the cliff that God Roundy needed to climb to turn this game around even steeper, and also made his LeBlanc even stronger. Whatever tiny advantages God Roundy had built up on his Riven in the early game, and whatever small victories he’d claimed in top lane, Rake had swept all of those away with one precise play. Rake had shut God Roundy down. He knew exactly what he was going when he roamed up to top lane. And as he turned his LeBlanc back towards midlane, he looked at Riven’s corpse one last time with subtle contempt in his eyes.
On the other side of the game and the other side of the stage, Tian Tian winced. His mind was riddled with regret and anguish. I shouldn’t have died there! I-i should’ve seen-it! S-s-should’ve known that g-g-gank was coming! His Riven’s death was more than a Champion death or giving away a kill. It was the death of any hope of KG making a comeback. As much as Tian Tian was blaming himself for letting everyone down right there, the truth was that he couldn’t be blamed for this. LeBlanc’s full combo did an insane amount of damage, that was one part. The other part was the signature SSK synergy between their Jungle and Mid.
Everyone who was even slightly involved in the competitive scene spouted on ad infinitum about how Team SSK had an Emperor and a King. And everyone also went on like a broken record about how SSK’s Emperor was the God Emperor. Rake, the One that Sits on the Throne of Sovereign. First among all the Emperors. Blah, blah, blah. But Team SSK’s real power wasn’t Rake. It was their King, Mafa. Quite possibly the best Jungle player in the world. The same league as Team Assassin’s Read XIII, but perhaps even better. Team SSK’s Mid-Jungle combo, the synergy between Rake and Mafa, that was their signature. One of the deadliest weapons in their arsenal.
In nearly every game that Team SSK played, it was the Rake-Mafa roams that helped the entire team get ahead and then snowball. Their coordination and synergy was perfect. That scary, eerie perfect. To anyone watching and anyone playing against them, it was like Rake and Mafa could read each other’s minds. This particular game against KG was no exception to that strategy. After LeBlanc and Rek’Sai ganked top lane to kill God Roundy’s Riven, Team SSK started to snowball. 10 minutes in, SSK had already pulled ahead with a gold lead of 4,000. 12 minutes in, SSK claimed and killed the first Dragon. 15 minutes into the game, the gold lead had widened to 6,000. By 20 minutes in the game, it widened even further to 8,000. The gap between Team SSK and Team KG turned from a small advantage to an ever-growing chasm. It also represented the difference in skill between the two teams.
Rake’s macro gameplay was so overwhelming that it transcended this one game against Team KG. He wasn’t just crushing them in one game, he used one move to dominate the entire series. And he wasn’t just trying to display Team SSK’s might to Team KG. The point was to push every team watching, every player past, present, and future with one play. And it worked. Too strong! That was the single thought going through the minds of every player on every team watching this game.
A perfect Mid-Jungle duo. A flawless play that turned the entire game around for Team SSK. Even their Gnar who had been losing in the early game phase, managed to regain his footing. By the time mid-game rolled around, he was throwing out beautiful multi-Champion stuns that helped Team SSK win several teamfights.
The snowball that Rake’s LeBlanc had started turned into an avalanche for Team KG. They struggled in vain, trying to turn things around. God Roundy tried his very best to use his Riven to dive SSK’s backline, take out their main damage-dealers. But it was all for nothing. Team SSK was an anaconda, slowly wrapping around them, crushing their bones and squeezing the life out of them. Team KG was powerless against them. No amount of struggle could stop the noose that was tightening around their necks. KG was struggling with all their might and trying their best to fight back. Tian Tian was also doing his best to dive the enemy’s backline. However, SSK was like an unbreakable noose slowly wrapping around their necks.
Finally. After 31 minutes of futile thrashing, the victory screen floated up on the screen as KG’s Blue Nexus exploded with chaotic energies. KG lost the first game. The series became 0-1.
This loss was heavy. The weight of defeat settled down on all of the Chinese fans, suffocating them. Despite the reality that was evident to everyone, though, there were still those eternal optimists who refused to give up hope and tried to reassure the other’s online.
「it’s fine, it’s only one game」
「This is abest of five!」
「there’s still hope! Don’t give up!」
「roundy players really well! As long he carried a little harder!」
「we can still win!」
However, these hollow words of comfort proved to be empty. Their hopes were completely shattered by once the second game in the series started. 4 minutes into that second game, Tian Tian’s Rumble was ganked by Team SSK’s Elise and Leona and was instantly sent back to the fountain.
The rest of the game went completely downhill for Team KG. Just like the first one. 6 minutes into it, Mafa’s Elise roamed top again, this time with Rake’s Fizz in tow. They circled behind Tian Tian’s tower and killed his Rumble again. Rumble was 0/2/0. He was clearly being targeted, that much was obvious. SSK knew that God Roundy was KG’s shining hope, and they wanted to crush that early on. But there was nothing that the rest of KG could do to help. Tian Tian’s top lane was completely shut down during the early game. The rest of the game only got progressively worse for Team KG.
10 minutes: The gold gap increased to 4,000 in SSK’s favour.
15 minutes: A team fight broke out around the Dragon Pit. Rake’s Fizz initiated the fight by picking off Konjac’s Jinx, instantly putting KG at a disadvantage. SSK won the fight 4-to-1 and pulled ahead even further.
27 minutes: The game ended. SSK was one game away from winning the matchup, and KG had a fat doughnut on their hands.
The Chinese fans watching felt their chests tighten. Some were so nervous that they started shaking. One more loss and KG was out. Was there any hope left? Could KG pull a miracle comeback? The answer was no. Cold and cruel reality snuffed out the dying embers of hope.
The 3rd game started with an invade. Team SSK pushed through KG’s jungle and a Level 1 teamfight broke out. There was a fire-fight! And a massacre. Team SSK picked up 3 kills, two for their top Hecarim and one for their midlane Yasuo. Team KG didn’t manage to get any kills in that fight.
KG had fallen behind before the game even started, and the fat lady had finished warming up and started belting out the first notes of her opera.
10 minutes: The gold gap was 4,000.
At 20 minutes: The gold gap increased to 10,000.
Then, game over. When the purple victory emblem floated up over KG’s ruined Nexus, the Chinese fans watching online fell silent. KG was knocked out of the League of Legends Season 5 World Championship Semi-finals with a score of 0-3. A clean sweep. Many of the Chinese pros watching World grimaced and looked away. Countless Chinese fans online felt their hearts slowly turn cold, as if their entire world had turned gray. KG had lost. The LPL had lost. They were completely crushed by Team SSK without any chance of fighting back.